Microsoft has never released Publisher on Mac, but we’ve taken a look at the best alternative desktop publishing software for Mac in 2018.
MS Publisher is different from Microsoft Word because it focuses more on Desktop Publishing (DTP) than traditional word processing software on Mac.
The apps featured here are suitable for creating all types of print and online publications including newsletters, brochures, booklets, magazines, newspapers, leaflets, eBooks, flyers, banners, invitations and more.
Many of them can also be used with drawing tablets on your Mac if you prefer being creative with a pen and all of them work on the latest versions of macOS including High Sierra and Mojave.
Here then is a definitive list of the best desktop publishing software for Mac in 2018 that make excellent alternatives to Microsoft Publisher in order of ranking.
Swift Publisher is an impressive, user-friendly and slick desktop publishing application for Mac that’s become increasingly popular as a cheaper desktop alternative to MS Publisher.
Swift Publisher is made by Belight Software who are also the team behind Printworks (see app number 5) and one of the best home design software for Mac, Live Home 3D.
If the monthly or annual subscriptions are not for you, Swift Publisher provides an excellent value for money desktop publishing software for Mac for just $19.99 (and there’s also 30% off for students, academics and non-profits).
The good thing about all Belight products like Swift Publisher is that they don’t require lots of learning like professional DTP software for Mac but produce professional looking results.
Swift Publisher is ideal for producing booklets, bulletins, flyers or brochures and makes rearranging elements such as images, tables and text very easy.
Swift Publisher has 300 professional looking templates which you can customize anyway you want and help you create layouts quickly.
Swift Publisher is also integrated with iPhoto and Aperture and you can export your work to PDF, JPEG, EPS, TIFF and iCloud. There are also more advanced touches like the possibility to define bleeds and configure correct DPI for print publishing.
There are also lots of easy to follow video tutorials to get you started with Swift Publisher although we found you still sometimes have to Google certain functions to work out how to do them.
We noticed stability can be an occasional issue when working with lots of images but for pamphlets, flyers and straightforward publications, it works very well.
If you want an easy to use DTP app that’s similar to Publisher but without a steep learning curve or monthly subscription fees, then Swift Publisher is an excellent, value for money tool.
You can find full details on Swift Publisher pricing here.
You can also try Swift Publisher for free to judge for yourself first.
Adobe InDesign is easily the leading industry DTP software for Mac and blows Microsoft Publisher out of the water when it comes to desktop publishing.
If you’re entitled to an educational discount, Adobe InDesign is an absolute must right now as Adobe are currently offering 60% off the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite.
That’s not just InDesign you get – Creative Cloud includes 20 different apps including industry leading tools including Photoshop, Lightroom, Spark, Adobe XD, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Acrobat Pro.
So you’re basically getting 20 Adobe applications for the price of one.
InDesign is used professionally for everything from creating stationary, flyers, annual reports, calendars and posters to professional magazines, online interactive digital publications and e-books.
The introduction of a huge number of royalty free professional images in Adobe Stock (additional subscription required) means anyone can now produce professional looking publications without the need for a big design or imaging department.
InDesign has become far more accessible to the average user too with an easier to use layout that’s closer to the Microsoft Office style ribbon interface and toolbox.
Adobe has simplified InDesign a lot to appeal to a wider market and there are also plenty of easy to follow InDesign video tutorials to help you get to grips with the software.
You can now easily create multi-column text blocks, apply font styles or changes and wrap text around objects in a few clicks.
Most impressive in InDesign however is the way it handles images.
For starters, you can of course import high quality vector graphics from other Adobe apps such as Illustrator and Photoshop in a few clicks.
But what allows you to get really creative with InDesign is undoubtedly Adobe Stock which integrates into all of its Creative Cloud software. Adobe Stock is a huge repository of millions of royalty free stock images and videos including those in 4K quality.
These are instantly accessible and searchable via the CC Libraries menu along the right hand side of InDesign. This means you can find and import high quality professional images and multimedia for virtually any subject which saves both time and money in sourcing images for your publication.
Exporting to the format of your choice is now extremely well-integrated into InDesign meaning you simply have to click Export and choose the format of your choice such as EPUB, Flash, HTML, PDF Print and PDF Interactive.
Alternatively, you can publish directly online from Adobe InDesign for Mac to your own Adobe Portfolio site.
You get 20GB of online storage space for publication and file storage with your Creative Cloud subscription and publishing to it is as simple as clicking the Publish Online button at the top of the interface.
You can dynamically update publications you’ve already published too this way meaning it works well for news magazines.
Anyone can then view your finished publications online either via a public link or embedded in a website on any device without the need for extra plugins or a Creative Cloud account.
Another plus of InDesign Creative Cloud integration is that you can start designing or creating publications on your iPad and then continue working on it on your Mac.
Alternatively, you can create publications or designs on your Mac and make last-minute edits or corrections on your iPad on the move.
Overall, InDesign for Mac is the ultimate desktop publishing software for Mac due to its range of features, general ease of use for a professional DTP software on Mac and ability to publish to all formats.
The integration with Adobe Stock allows you to produce truly professional results without the need for expensive and time-consuming photography.
Although InDesign definitely takes longer to learn and get used than many of the other software featured here, the long-term benefits and payback are worth it, particularly if you’re planning to create a commercial publication or are a professional publisher.
On its own InDesign costs $20.99 per month.
However if you’re a Student or Teacher, you’re much better off taking advantage of the 60% off Creative Cloud suite offer as you get all 20 Creative Cloud apps included for the same price.
You can also download a free trial of InDesign to try it first.
You can also watch how to create a simple postcard in InDesign below.
Pages is Apple’s answer to Microsoft Word for Mac and used to be part of Apple’s version of Microsoft Office, iWork. Pages is now available as a standalone app though and is capable of both word processing and desktop publishing.
If you’re used to Microsoft Word, it can take some time to work out where the equivalent functions are in Pages but it’s well worth the effort. With lots of professional looking templates and layouts, you can create some really professional results using Pages.
Pages does have its drawbacks though. Working-out how to format things, insert tables and move elements around the page isn’t as easy as it should be but again, all it requires is familiarity with how Pages works.
Some users are also disappointed at recent versions of Pages which they feel aren’t as good as previous versions with some features removed or not as easy to find as before.
Be aware that there isn’t much support for Pages or many tutorial videos either so if you get stick, you’ll find yourself having to Google the answer although Pages is so widely used on Mac, you’ll always find the answer somewhere.
Note that if you’re using OS X 10.10 Yosemite and above, you don’t need to buy the entire iWork suite to get Pages – you can download it separately from the Mac App Store for $19.99.
Lucidpress is an easy to use online desktop publishing software with over 3 million users according to the developer Lucid Software.
Lucidpress is extremely user friendly and helps you to create extremely professional looking print and digital publications including magazines, newsletters, posters, flyers, reports, digital magazines and more.
There’s nothing to download with Lucidpress, the basic version is free to use and it works on any platform. You don’t even have to sign-up if you have a Google account as you can use your Google account to sign-in and start using it immediately.
Lucidpress allows you to easily drag and drop elements, import text from Google Docs, add tables, buttons and insert interactive media such as YouTube videos.
It’s very easy to do common tasks like change the size of your canvas, undo edits and edit headers and footers in Lucidpress.
One of the most striking things about Lucidpress is the huge range of professional looking templates ranging from posters and invitations to gift certificates and business cards.
Templates are optimized for high quality 300dpi printing although this is only available in the Professional and Team Plans of Lucidpress.
Free and Basic plans will also display on digital devices at 300dpi but paper printing will be limited to 100dpi.
All Lucid products are highly focused on team collaboration and Lucidpress is especially ideal for those working in an editorial team.
The Pro and Team Plans of Lucidpress support anything from 2 to 200,000 users working at the same time and allow you to see who is working on what, leave comments and chat in real time to other members.
Editors can manage permissions of other users to limit commenting, editing or viewing. You can also see revision history so you can see who made changes and undo any unwanted changes instantly.
When it comes to sharing documents, Lucidpress is integrated with services such as Dropbox, Flickr and Facebook so that you can easily import images and graphics from them and also publish directly from Lucidpress to them.
The export options are more limited than professional tools like InDesign but you can export to PDF, JPG and PNG for offline publication or embed them online in a website or blog.
Finally one unique aspect to Lucidpress is internal analytics. The Pro and Team plans of Lucidpress track how people are interacting with your publication and give you an fascinating oversight as to how users scroll, click and interact with your publications.
The basic single user version of Lucidpress is completely free to use but is limited to 3 pages and 25MB of storage.
To remove these limits and get other benefits such as print quality PDFs, document embedding and premium templates, plans start at $5.95 per month.
Lucidpress often offers some pretty big discounts too if you subscribe annually rather than monthly. If you’re a K12 teacher or student, you can even get Lucidpress completely free.
Overall, Lucidpress can’t compare with industry leading professional publishing software like Adobe InDesign for serious designers and publishers but it certainly beats Microsoft Publisher for easy desktop publishing.
You can also watch a quick overview of how to use Lucidpress works below.
Printworks is a more recent product from Belight Software, the makers of Swift Publisher (see review above).
While Swift Publisher is more focused on page layouts, Printworks is designed for desktop publishing tasks of all kinds from brochures and calendars to CD labels and business cards.
If you need to create branded stationary for a small business for example, Printworks would be a better solution than Swift Publisher as it’s designed for publicity of all types (see a full comparison of Swift Publisher vs Printworks here).There are over 500 free templates to choose from including bi-fold and tri-fold brochures, address labels plus there are additional free Printworks templates here.
Most things are included in the purchase price of Printworks ($29.99) but you can also buy 40,000 royalty free clipart images for an extra $9.99.
Printworks feels a bit like a more basic but user friendly version of QuarkXpress (see review later) with useful two-page spread views, master pages for repeat content and unlimited layers.
Other smart Printworks features include the ability to import audio tracks from iTunes, import your Apple Contacts, print on CDs and DVDs, support for TouchBar Macs and Google Maps integration.
You can try a free trial of Printworks to see whether it’s right for you.
It’s clear that Publisher Plus is heavily inspired by Apple’s Pages but has tweaked the user interface a bit to make it faster to use.
One of the common problems with Pages is that for those that are used to Word, it can feel a bit un-intuitive to use with menus and tools constructed in a slightly different “Apple” way of doing things.
Publisher Plus has a more familiar Windows feel to it and is as a result now one of the most popular equivalents to Microsoft Publisher available.
However, there are a few disadvantages to be aware of. For example, there are plenty of templates available – over 170 in fact ranging from Magazines and Posters to Newsletters and Certificates – but the quality of them isn’t quite as professional as in Pages or Swift Publisher. There are other limitations too such as the text tool which doesn’t allow you to configure a style and there a fewer choices when it comes to drop shadows.
That said, if you compare it side-by-side with MS Publisher, Publisher Plus actually has more features although it should be stressed, only if you upgrade from Lite to the full version of Publisher Plus.
The pricing for Publisher Plus is a bit confusing as you can get it direct from the developer for $39.90 with a 30 day money back guarantee or $19.99 from the Mac App Store.
There’s also Publisher Plus Lite which allows you to edit Microsoft Publisher files for free although it only allows you to edit or create a few limited pages and you have to buy the full version for $39.90 to unlock the entire app.
Your best bet is probably to try to Publisher Lite from the Mac App Store for free first and then upgrade to Publisher Plus if you like it.
Overall, if you’re trying to create a magazine, advertisement, flyers, resume or business card, Publisher Plus is generally an excellent desktop publishing software.
iStudio Publisher is an extremely user-friendly and powerful DTP software for Mac users.
If cloud solutions like Lucidpress or professional publishing software such as InDesign are not your thing, iStudio Publisher is an excellent desktop alternative.
iStudio Publisher produces professional results and yet is very easy to get started with thanks to the well thought out video tutorials and Quick Start Guide.
Creating brochures and documents is very easy – you can simply drag and drop images and text boxes into a page and export the final product to PDF.
The only slight downside is that you can’t import and export Microsoft Word DOC files but you can insert content from Word files via RTF, TXT, PDF, and various image formats (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, PSD, AI and EPS). You can also export to PDF and ePUB.
For those that need to send the document to professional printers, iStudio Publisher also gives you the ability to work with colors in different colorspaces such as RGB and CMYK which isn’t very common on with consumer level Desktop Publishing Software on Mac and an essential option if you’re planning to get your documents professionally produced.
And if you have any problems or questions, we can speak from experience that the developer is also very quick and helpful which isn’t always the case with DTP software on Mac.
If you want a value for money user-friendly desktop alternative to Publisher but don’t want to be locked into a monthly subscription, iStudio Publisher might be for you at just $17.99.
And if you’re not sure whether to go for it, you can also try a fully functional free trial of iStudio Publisher before buying.
If you want to create interactive documents on your Mac, then FlippingBook might be for you. FlippingBook is a clever online desktop publishing software for Mac that is extremely easy to use and doesn’t require you to download anything.
FlippingBook can be used for creating interactive documents, books, magazines, catalogs or brochures. What’s clever about FlippingBook is that it can make digital documents have a vintage paper look and feel to them to give them a more original touch.
The page flip effect in particular looks really cool and feels like browsing a genuine print publication on your Mac or iOS device. We like the way you can import PDF or HTML5 documents into FlippingBook and it automatically then coverts them to a paper feel format.
FlippingBook automatically optimizes all publications to display as well on desktop as they do on mobile devices and you can even embed them into blogs and websites.
You can add other useful elements like a table of contents, embed videos in documents and even pop-up images on pages.
All pages and publications can be branded with your own logo or background and you can choose to host your publications on your own server or with FlippingBook Cloud.
FlippingBook could be described as an interactive desktop publishing software and while it’s not a direct replacement for Publisher, it’s definitely a more interesting and creative software.
It’s a bit pricey at $40 per month for the Starter version going up to $180 per month for the Advanced version but if you’re looking to really impress clients or customers on a regular basis, it’s probably worth it.
Note that although you can use FlippingBook online, there is also a FlippingBook desktop client for Windows although none for Mac as yet.
There are basically no free alternatives to Publisher on a Mac that have comparable features and functionality, although LibreOffice (see review above) is about the closest you’ll get to a free version of Publisher.
There is however also Scribus which doesn’t have the features and polished interface of the software covered so far but is definitely worth checking-out if you’re on a strict budget.
Scribus is a powerful professional free open source desktop publishing application which can do pretty much everything that Microsoft Publisher can and more.
It has plenty of templates to choose from including for brochures, newsletters and posters. There’s no reason you can’t produce professional looking publications with Scribus as these examples show.
The main toolbar across the top of Scribus provides all of the main functions and there is a sliderule along the margins to help you be exact with your designs and layouts.
As is typical with open source software however, you have to feel your way around Scirbus to get used to it. There is an extensive Scribus Wiki but it’s quite dry and there are no tutorial videos to follow.
Scribus isn’t updated very often as it relies on a small group of volunteers to keep it running so bear that in mind if you’re expecting lots of new features and updates regularly.
Note that you also need to install Ghostscript on your Mac in order for it to work. There is no official developer support either although there is a Scribus community forum where you may find answers to your problems.
If you want a free DTP software though, and have time study the manual, Scribus is a very powerful publishing program for absolutely nothing.
No review of desktop publishing software on Mac would be complete without a mention of QuarkXPress. QuarkXPress used to be the industry standard for Desktop Publishing on Mac many years ago but has suffered from a lack of development and competition from InDesign on Mac.
However, the latest version of QuarkXPress is a huge improvement and if you’re looking for a professional desktop publishing software without a monthly subscription, it might be for you (it doesn’t come cheap though at $349).
QuarkXPress is probably the most expensive DTP software you’ll find but it is easily the most well-known and established Desktop Publishing Software among professional publishing houses.
However, its market share has taken a big dent over the past decade due to an increasingly bloated design and from the rise of Adobe InDesign and the incredibly powerful Adobe Creative Cloud suite.
20 years ago QuarkXPress was the industry standard DTP program on Mac but increasingly became slow, bloated, buggy and generally left behind.
Quark has traditionally been the choice of professional publishers, magazines and newspapers so if you’re only looking for a simple desktop publishing program, it’s also quite a complicated package to get your head round.
However, QuarkXPress has attempted to recover ground from Adobe with the release of QuarkXPress 2016. Some of the most notable features of Quark 2016 are the new color picker tool and ability to export HTML5 publications which InDesign can’t do as yet.
There are other things QuarkXPress can do that InDesign can’t too such as the ability to convert PDF and AI files for editing, vertical kerning, gradients with different opacity settings and custom optical margin alignment for example. Note that you can’t open InDesign files although you can copy and paste InDesign items into QuarkXPress.
The new QuarkXPress is certainly an improvement on previous versions and one other strong selling point is that unlike Adobe InDesign, Quark 2016 doesn’t require a subscription.
It’s just a one-off purchase of $349 for the desktop software which may appeal to some users looking for a professional desktop publishing software for Mac.
For this price, you get a perpetual license with 60-days of free support, free dual activation, a cross-platform license for Mac and PC and ongoing access to free updates.
If you’re intending to do some serious DTP work and want to produce high quality professional publications without a monthly subscription like InDesign, then QuarkXPress is definitely worth looking at. You can try a free trial of QuarkXpress to judge for yourself.
VivaDesigner is a powerful German based desktop publishing and typesetting software that’s on a par with InDesign and QuarkXPress. In fact it can even convert and open Adobe InDesign files so that you can edit them in VivaDesigner and vice-versa.
VivaDesigner works across on both Mac and PC in a desktop client and online via a browser. It’s a good option for those working in teams as it allows several users to work on one document but features Distributed Publishing controls to restrict privileges.
VivaDesigner is far more powerful than Microsoft Publisher with professional features such as Glyph palette, multilingual text editing and translation, style sheet visualization and optional Publishing Servers.
VivaDesigner is available in Free, Personal ($139) and Commercial ($399) editions. The free edition is very limited in features but can be used for basic desktop publishing both on your desktop and online. You can see a full comparison between all the versions of VivaDesigner here.
Which Is The Best Mac Desktop Publishing Software?
We’re sure that by using one of the solutions featured here you can live without Microsoft Publisher on macOS.
As we’ve seen, there are many cheaper, competent alternatives out there. Swift Publisher is our favorite because it does desktop publishing better than Publisher but with more features, it’s cheaper and it doesn’t require a monthly subscription.
Adobe InDesign meanwhile is still easily the most powerful desktop publishing software for Mac in terms of professional standard desktop publishing. The disadvantage is that DTP apps like InDesign, Lucidpress, and Flipping Book all require a monthly subscription which is an increasingly common software payment model nowadays, especially when it comes to design software of all kinds.
For a full comparison of all the software featured here, check the table below.
Top MS Publisher Alternatives For Mac Compared
|Swift Publisher||Adobe InDesign||Lucidpress||Printworks||Publisher Plus||Apple Pages||iStudio Publisher||Flipping Book||Scribus||QuarkXPress|
(60% Educational Discount Available)
|Works on iPad|
|Drag & Drop|
Is Microsoft Publisher Available In Office 365?
Publisher is not included in Office 365 for Mac users. For Windows users however, Publisher is included in Office 365 including Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal and Office 365 University.
Why Is There No Mac Version Of Publisher?
The Mac user market is obviously a lot smaller than the PC market and Microsoft doesn’t see it as financially viable to put the development, support and resources into making a Mac version of Publisher.
If you have any other problems, questions or issues with these Publisher substitutes on Mac, let us know in the comments below.
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